If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result
of a hundred battles. If you know yourself, but not the enemy, for every
victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy
nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.|
SUN TZU, The Art of War
Across the Korea Strait events of importance were taking place in Japan
that would soon have an impact on the Korean scene. In Tokyo, General MacArthur
on 30 June instructed General Walker, commander of Eighth Army, to order
the 24th Infantry Division to Korea at once. Its proximity to Korea was
the principal reason General MacArthur selected it for immediate commitment.
 General Walker gave Maj. Gen. William F. Dean, Commanding General,
24th Division, preliminary verbal instructions concerning the division.
These instructions were formalized in an Eighth Army Operation Order at
0315 1 July which provided that (1) a delaying force of two rifle companies,
under a battalion commander, reinforced by two platoons of 4.2-inch mortars
and one platoon of 75-mm. recoilless rifles was to go by air to Pusan and
report to General Church for orders; (2) the division headquarters and
one battalion of infantry were to go to Pusan by air at once; (3) the remainder
of the division would follow by water; and (4) a base was to be established
for early offensive operations. The mission of the advance elements was
phrased as follows: "Advance at once upon landing with delaying force,
in accordance with the situation, to the north by all possible means, contact
enemy now advancing south from Seoul towards Suwon and delay his advance."
 The order also stated that General Dean would assume command of all
U.S. Army Forces in Korea (USAFIK) upon his arrival there.
In the next few days Eighth Army transferred a total of 2,108 men to
the 24th Division from other units to bring it up to full authorized strength,
most of them from the other three infantry divisions. The division, thus
readied for the movement to Korea, numbered 15,965 men and had 4,773 vehicles.
Task Force Smith Goes to Korea
On the evening of 30 June, Lt. Col. Charles B. Smith, Commanding Officer,
1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, went to
bed at 9 o'clock in his quarters at Camp Wood near Kumamoto, Kyushu, tired
and sleepy after having been up all the previous night because of an alert.
An hour and a half later his wife awakened him, saying, "Colonel Stephens
is on the phone and wants you." At the telephone Smith heard Col.
Richard W. Stephens, Commanding Officer, 21st Infantry, say to him, "The
lid has blown off-get on your clothes and report to the CP." Thus
began Task Force Smith as seen by its leader.  Colonel Smith had been
at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, on 7 December 1941 when the Japanese hit Pearl
Harbor, causing him hurriedly to take D Company, 35th Infantry, to form
a defense position on Barbers Point. Now, this call in the night vividly
reminded him of that earlier event.
At the regimental command post, Colonel Stephens told Smith to take
his battalion, less A and D Companies, to Itazuke Air Base; it was to fly
to Korea at once. General Dean would meet him at the airfield with further
Colonel Stephens quickly arranged to lend Smith officers from the 3d
Battalion to fill gaps in the rifle platoons of B and C Companies. By 0300
1 July Colonel Smith and his men were on trucks and started on the seventy-five
mile drive from Camp Wood to Itazake. They rode in a downpour of rain,
the same monsoon deluge that descended on General Church and his ADCOM
party that night on the road from Suwon to Taejon. Smith's motor convoy
reached Itazake at 0805.
General Dean was waiting for Smith at the airfield. "When you get
to Pusan," he said to him, "head for Taejon. We want to stop
the North Koreans as far from Pusan as we can. Block the main road as far
north as possible. Contact General Church. If you can't locate him, go
to Taejon and beyond if you can. Sorry I can't give you more information.
That's all I've got. Good luck to you, and God bless you and your men."
Thus, the fortunes of war decreed that Colonel Smith, a young infantry
officer of the West Point Class of 1939 who had served with the 25th Division
in the Pacific in World War II, would command the first American ground
troops to meet the enemy in the Korean War. Smith was about thirty-four years
of age, of medium stature, and possessed a strong, compact body. His face
was friendly and open.
Assembled at Itazake, Colonel Smith's force consisted of the following
units and weapons of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment: 2 under-strength
rifle companies, B and C; one-half of Headquarters Company; one-half of
a communications platoon; a composite 75-mm. recoilless rifle platoon of
4 guns, only 2 of which were airlifted; and 4 4.2-inch mortars, only 2
airlifted. The organization of B and C Companies included 6 2.36-inch bazooka
teams and 4 60-mm. mortars. Each man had 120 rounds of .30-caliber rifle
ammunition and 2 days of C rations. In all, there were about 440 men, of
whom only 406 were destined to be in the group air-landed in Korea that
Smith's force had a liberal sprinkling of combat veterans from World
War II. About one-third of the officers had had combat experience either
in Europe or in the Pacific. About one-half of the noncommissioned officers
were World War II veterans, but not all had been in combat. Throughout
the force, perhaps one man in six had had combat experience. Most of the
men were young, twenty years old or less.
Only six C-54 planes were available for the transport job. The first
plane was airborne at 0845. The first and second planes upon arrival over
the small runway near Pusan found it closed in with fog and, unable to
land, they returned to Japan. Colonel Smith was on the second plane but
he could not land in Korea until the tenth flight-between 1400 and 1500.
Colonel Emmerich, who the previous afternoon had received instructions
to have the airstrip ready, a few other KMAG officers, and a great number
of South Korean civilians met the first elements when they landed about
A miscellaneous assortment of about a hundred Korean trucks and vehicles
assembled by Colonel Emmerich transported the men of Task Force Smith the
seventeen miles from the airstrip to the railroad station in Pusan. Cheering
crowds lined the streets and waved happily to the American soldiers as
they passed. The city was in gay spirits-flags, banners, streamers, and
posters were everywhere. Korean bands at the railroad station gave a noisy
send-off as the loaded train pulled out at 2000.
The train with Task Force Smith aboard arrived at Taejon the next morning,
0800 2 July. There Lt. Col. LeRoy Lutes, a member of ADCOM, met Colonel
Smith and took him to General Church's headquarters where the general was
in conference with several American and ROK officers. Church greeted Smith
and, pointing to a place on the map, explained, "We have a little
action up here. All we need is some men up there who won't run when they
see tanks. We're going to move you up to support the ROKs and give them
moral support." 
Colonel Smith then suggested that he would like to go forward and look
over the ground. While his men went to their bivouac area, Smith and his
principal officers got into jeeps and set out over the eighty miles of
bad, bumpy roads to Osan. All along the way they saw thousands of ROK soldiers
and refugees cluttering the roads and moving south.
Three miles north of Osan, at a point where the road runs through a
low saddle, drops down, and bends slightly northwest toward Suwon, Smith
found an excellent infantry position which commanded both the highway and
the railroad. An irregular ridge of hills crossed the road at right angles,
the highest point rising about 300 feet above the low ground which stretched
northward toward Suwon. From this high point both the highway and railroad
were in view almost the entire distance to Suwon, eight miles to the north.
After looking over the ground, Smith issued verbal orders for organizing
a position there. A flight of enemy fighters, red stars plainly visible
on their wings, passed overhead, but their pilots apparently did not see
the few men below. Its purpose accomplished, the group returned to the
Taejon airstrip well after dark.
That night, 2 July, Smith received an order to take his men north by
train to P'yongt'aek and Ansong. The former is 15 miles south, and the
latter 20 miles southeast, of Osan. Smith loaded his men into trains and
they rolled north into the night. One company dug in at P'yongt'aek; the
other at Ansong 12 miles away. Smith established his command post with
the group at P'yongt'aek on the main highway.
The next day at P'yongt'aek Colonel Smith and his men witnessed a demonstration
of aerial destructiveness. A northbound ammunition train of nine boxcars
on its way to ROK units pulled into P'yongt'aek. While the train waited
for further instructions, four Mustangs flown by Royal Australian Air Force
pilots made six strafing runs over it firing rockets and machine guns.
The train was blown up, the station demolished, and parts of the town shot
up. All night ammunition kept exploding. Many residents of P'yongt'aek
died or were injured in this mistaken air strike. 
That same afternoon friendly air also attacked Suwon and strafed a South
Korean truck column near the town. ROK rifle fire damaged one plane and
forced the pilot to land at Suwon Airfield. There, KMAG and ROK officers
"captured" a highly embarrassed American pilot. One KMAG officer
with the ROK Army headquarters at Suwon said he was under attack by friendly
planes five different times on 3 July. This same officer in a letter to
a friend a few days later wrote of these misplaced air attacks, "The
fly boys really had a field day! They hit friendly ammo dumps, gas dumps,
the Suwon air strip, trains, motor columns, and KA [Korean Army] Hq."
In the afternoon, four friendly jet planes made strikes on Suwon and along
the Suwon-Osan highway setting fire to gasoline at the railroad station
in Suwon and destroying buildings and injuring civilians. On the road they
strafed and burned thirty South Korean trucks and killed 200 ROK soldiers.
Because of these incidents throughout the day, General Church sent a strong
protest to FEAF asking that air action be held to Han River bridges or northward.
AMERICAN COMBAT TROOPS arriving at Taejon, 2 July. These
were 21st Infantry men of task Force Smith.
The next day, 4 July, Smith's divided command reunited at P'yongt'aek,
and was joined there by a part of the 52d Field Artillery Battalion. This
artillery contingent comprised one-half each of Headquarters and Service
Batteries and all of A Battery with 6 105-mm. howitzers, 73 vehicles, and
108 men under the command of Lt. Col. Miller O. Perry. It had crossed from
Japan on an LST 2 July, disembarking at Pusan late that night. Two trains
the next day carried the unit to Taejon. There General Church ordered Perry
to join Smith at P'yongt'aek, and about 2100 that night Perry's artillery
group entrained and departed northward. Because of the destroyed railroad
station at P'yongt'aek, the train stopped at Songhwan-ni, where the artillerymen
unloaded and drove on the six miles to P'yongt'aek before daylight. 
Meanwhile, the 34th Infantry Regiment loaded at Sasebo during the night
of 1 July, and arrived at Pusan the next night. After Task Force Smith
had left Japan the rest of the 21st Infantry Regiment, except A and D Companies
which sailed from Moji, loaded at Sasebo 3 July and departed for Pusan, arriving there early the next morning.
General Dean also was on his way to Korea. Failing on 2 July to land
at Taejon because his pilot could not find the airstrip in the dark, General
Dean the next morning at Ashiya Air Base joined Capt. Ben L. Tufts on his
way to Korea by General Almond's order to act as liaison between Army and
the press. Tufts' pilot knew the Taejon airstrip and landed his plane there
about 1030, 3 July. General Dean and Captain Tufts went directly to the
two-story yellow brick building serving as General Church's ADCOM Headquarters.
That afternoon a message from General MacArthur notified General Dean
that United States Army Forces in Korea was activated under his command
as of 0001 4 July. General Dean assumed command of USAFIK during the day
and appointed General Church as Deputy Commander. Twenty-two other officers
were named General and Special Staff officers of USAFIK.  ADCOM provided most of the officers for the USAFIK staff, but some KMAG officers
also served on it. Most of the KMAG officers who had left Korea by air
on 27 June returned aboard the ammunition ship Sergeant Keathley on
2 July.  By this time the ROK Army had assembled and partly reorganized
about 68,000 men.
Task Force Smith at Osan
Colonels Smith and Perry, and some others, went forward in the late
afternoon of 4 July to make a final reconnaissance of the Osan position.
At this time Perry selected the positions for his artillery. On the road
ROK engineer groups were preparing demolitions on all bridges.
Back at Taejon General Dean, a big six-footer with a bristling crew
cut cropping his sand-colored hair, and beanpole General Church, slightly
stooped, always calm seemingly to the point of indifference, discussed
the probability of imminent American combat with the enemy. The third general
officer to come to the forward area in Korea, Brig. Gen. George B. Barth,
acting commanding general of the 24th Division artillery, now arrived in
Taejon in the early afternoon. General Dean decided to send Barth forward
to represent him, and with instructions for Task Force Smith. So, at 1500
4 July, General Barth started north by jeep for P'yongt'aek.  When
he found Smith, General Barth relayed his orders to "take up those
good positions near Osan you told General Church about." 
A little after midnight the infantry and artillery of Task Force Smith
moved out of P'yongt'aek. Colonel Smith had to commandeer Korean trucks
and miscellaneous vehicles to mount his men. The native Korean drivers
deserted when they found that the vehicles were going north. American soldiers
took over in the drivers' seats. General Barth and Colonel Smith followed
the task force northward. On the way, General Barth tried to halt the ROK
demolition preparations by telling the engineer groups that he planned
to use the bridges. At one bridge, after talk failed to influence the ROK
engineers, Barth threw the boxes of dynamite into the river. It was only
twelve miles to Osan, but it took two and a half hours to get there because
ROK soldiers and civilians fleeing south filled the road and driving was
under blackout conditions. 
About 0300 on 5 July, the delaying force reached the position which
Smith had previously selected. The infantry units started setting up weapons
and digging in at the pre-designated places. Colonel Perry moved his guns
into the positions behind the infantry that he had selected the previous
afternoon. All units were in place, but not completely dug in, before daylight.
In seeking the most favorable place to pass through the ridge, the railroad
bent eastward away from the highway until it was almost a mile distant.
There the railroad split into two single-track lines and passed over low
ground between hills of the ridge line. On his left flank Colonel Smith
placed one platoon of B Company on the high knob immediately west of the
highway; east of the road were B Company's other two rifle platoons. Beyond
them eastward to the railroad tracks were two platoons of C Company. This
company's third platoon occupied a finger ridge running south, forming
a refused right flank along the west side of the railroad track. Just east
of the highway B Company emplaced one 75-mm. recoilless rifle; C Company
emplaced the other 75-mm. recoilless rifle just west of the railroad. Colonel
Smith placed the 4.2-inch mortars on the reverse, or south, slope of the
ridge about 400 yards behind the center of B Company's position. The infantry
line formed a 1-mile front, not counting the refused right flank along
the railroad track.  The highway, likely to be the critical axis of
enemy advance, passed through the shallow saddle at the infantry position
and then zigzagged gently downgrade northward around several knob-like
spurs to low ground a little more than a mile away. There it crossed to
the east side of the railroad track and continued on over semi-level ground
Two thousand yards behind the infantry, Colonel Perry pulled four 105-mm.
howitzers 150 yards to the left (west) off the highway over a small trail
that only jeeps could travel. Two jeeps in tandem pulled the guns into
place. Near a cluster of houses with rice
paddies in front and low hills back of them, the men arranged the guns
in battery position. Perry emplaced the fifth howitzer as an antitank gun
on the west side of the road about halfway between the main battery position
and the infantry. From there it could place direct fire on the highway
where it passed through the saddle and the infantry positions. 
Map 2. "Task Force Smith At Osan-Ni, 5 July 1950."
Volunteers from the artillery Headquarters and Service Batteries made
up four .50-caliber machine gun and four 2.36-inch bazooka teams and joined
the infantry in their position.
The infantry parked most of their miscellaneous trucks and jeeps along
the road just south of the saddle. The artillerymen left their trucks concealed
in yards and sheds and behind Korean houses along the road just north of
Osan. There were about 1,200 rounds of artillery ammunition at the battery
position and in two trucks parked inside a walled enclosure nearby. One
or two truckloads more were in the vehicles parked among the houses just
north of Osan. Nearly all this ammunition was high explosive (HE); only
6 rounds were high explosive antitank (HEAT), and all of it was taken to
the forward gun.  When the 52d Field Artillery was loading out at Sasebo,
Japan, the battalion ammunition officer drew all the HEAT ammunition available
there-only 18 rounds.  He issued 6 rounds to A Battery, now on the
point of engaging in the first battle between American artillery and the
Russian-built T34 tanks.
At the Osan position as rainy 5 July dawned were 540 Americans: 389
enlisted men and 17 officers among the infantry and 125 enlisted men and
9 officers among the artillerymen.  When first light came, the infantry
test-fired their weapons and the artillerymen registered their guns. Then
they ate their C ration breakfasts.
In spite of the rain Smith could see almost to Suwon. He first saw movement
on the road in the distance near Suwon a little after 0700. In about half
an hour a tank column, now easily discernible, approached the waiting Americans.
In this first group there were eight tanks. About 0800 the men back in
the artillery position received a call from the forward observer with the
infantry for a fire mission. 
At 0816 the first American artillery fire of the Korean War hurtled
through the air toward the North Korean tanks. The number two howitzer
fired the first two rounds, and the other pieces then joined in the firing.
The artillery took the tanks under fire at a range of approximately 4,000
yards, about 2,000 yards in front of the American infantry.  The forward
observer quickly adjusted the fire and shells began landing among the tanks.
But the watching infantrymen saw the tanks keep on coming, undeterred by
the exploding artillery shells.
To conserve ammunition Colonel Smith issued orders that the 75-mm. recoilless
rifle covering the highway should withhold fire until the tanks closed
to 700 yards. The tanks stayed in column, displayed little caution, and
did not leave the road. The commander of the enemy tank column may have
thought he had encountered only another minor ROK delaying position.
General Barth had gone back to the artillery just before the enemy came
into view and did not know when he arrived there that an enemy force was
approaching. After receiving reports from the forward observer that the
artillery fire was ineffective against the tanks, he started back to alert
the 1st Battalion of the 34th Infantry, whose arrival he expected at P'yongt'aek
during the night, against a probable breakthrough of the enemy tanks. 
When the enemy tank column approached within 700 yards of the infantry
position, the two recoilless rifles took it under fire. They scored direct
hits, but apparently did not damage the tanks which, firing their 85-mm.
cannon and 7.62-mm. machine guns, rumbled on up the incline toward the
saddle. When they were almost abreast of the infantry position, the lead
tanks came under 2.36-inch rocket launcher fire. Operating a bazooka from
the ditch along the east side of the road, 2d Lt. Ollie D. Connor, fired
twenty-two rockets at approximately fifteen yards' range against the rear
of the tanks where their armor was weakest. Whether they were effective
is doubtful. The two lead tanks, however, were stopped just through the
pass when they came under direct fire of the single 105-mm. howitzer using
HEAT ammunition. Very likely these artillery shells stopped the two tanks,
although the barrage of close-range bazooka rockets may have damaged their
The two damaged tanks pulled off to the side of the road, clearing the
way for those following. One of the two caught fire and burned. Two men
emerged from its turret with their hands up. A third jumped out with a
burp gun in his hands and fired directly into a machine gun position, killing
the assistant gunner. This unidentified machine gunner probably was the
first American ground soldier killed in action in Korea.  American
fire killed the three North Koreans. The six rounds of HEAT ammunition at the forward
gun were soon expended, leaving only the HE shells which ricocheted off
the tanks. The third tank through the pass knocked out the forward gun
and wounded one of its crew members.
The tanks did not stop to engage the infantry; they merely fired on
them as they came through. Following the first group of 8 tanks came others
at short intervals, usually in groups of 4. These, too, went unhesitatingly
through the infantry position and on down the road toward the artillery
position. In all, there were 33 tanks in the column. The last passed through
the infantry position by 0900, about an hour after the lead tanks had reached
the saddle. In this hour, tank fire had killed or wounded approximately
twenty men in Smith's position. 
Earlier in the morning it was supposed to have been no more than an
academic question as to what would happen if tanks came through the infantry
to the artillery position. Someone in the artillery had raised this point
to be answered by the infantry, "Don't worry, they will never get
back to you." One of the artillerymen later expressed the prevailing
opinion by saying, "Everyone thought the enemy would turn around and
go back when they found out who was fighting."  Word now came
to the artillerymen from the forward observer that tanks were through the
infantry and to be ready for them.
The first tanks cut up the telephone wire strung along the road from
the artillery to the infantry and destroyed this communication. The radios
were wet and functioning badly; now only the jeep radio worked. Communication
with the infantry after 0900 was spotty at best, and, about 1100, it ceased
The tanks came on toward the artillery pieces, which kept them under
fire but could not stop them. About 500 yards from the battery, the tanks
stopped behind a little hill seeking protection from direct fire. Then,
one at a time, they came down the road with a rush, hatches closed, making
a run to get past the battery position. Some fired their 85-mm cannon,
others only their machine guns. Their aim was haphazard in most cases for
the enemy tankers had not located the gun positions. Some of the tank guns
even pointed toward the opposite side of the road. Only one tank stopped
momentarily at the little trail where the howitzers had pulled off the
main road as though it meant to try to overrun the battery which its crew
evidently had located. Fortunately, however, it did not leave the road
but instead, after a moment, continued on toward Osan. The 105-mm. howitzers
fired at ranges of 150-300 yards as the tanks went by, but the shells only
jarred the tanks and bounced off. Altogether, the tanks did not average
more than one round each in return fire. 
Three bazooka teams from the artillery had posted themselves near the
road before the tanks appeared. When word came that the tanks were through
the infantry, two more bazooka teams, one led by Colonel Perry and the
other by Sgt. Edwin A. Eversole, started to move into position. The first tank
caught both Perry and Eversole in the rice paddy between the howitzers
and the highway. When Eversole's first bazooka round bounced off the turret
of the tank, he said that tank suddenly looked to him "as big as a
battleship." This tank fired its 85-mm. cannon, cutting down a telephone
pole which fell harmlessly over Eversole who had flung himself down into
a paddy drainage ditch. A 105-mm. shell hit the tracks of the third tank
and stopped it. The other tanks in this group went on through. The four
American howitzers remained undamaged. 
After these tanks had passed out of sight, Colonel Perry took an interpreter
and worked his way up close to the immobilized enemy tank. Through the
interpreter, he called on the crew to come out and surrender. There was
no response. Perry then ordered the howitzers to destroy the tank. After
three rounds had hit the tank, two men jumped out of it and took cover
in a culvert. Perry sent a squad forward and it killed the two North Koreans.
During this little action, small arms fire hit Colonel Perry in the
right leg. Refusing to be evacuated, he hobbled around or sat against the
base of a tree orders and instructions in preparation for the appearance
of more tanks. 
In about ten minutes the second wave of tanks followed the last of the
first group. This time there were more-"a string of them," as
one man expressed it. They came in ones, twos, and threes, close together
with no apparent interval or organization.
When the second wave of tanks came into view, some of the howitzer crew
members started to "take off." As one present said, the men were
"shy about helping."  The officers had to drag the ammunition
up and load the pieces themselves. The senior noncommissioned officers
fired the pieces. The momentary panic soon passed and, with the good example
and strong leadership of Colonel Perry and 1st Lt. Dwain L. Scott before
them, the men returned to their positions. Many of the second group of
tanks did not fire on the artillery at all. Again, the 105-mm. howitzers
could not stop the oncoming tanks. They did, however hit another in its
tracks, disabling it in front of the artillery position.  Some of the
tanks had one or two infantrymen on their decks. Artillery fire blew off
or killed most of them; some lay limply dead as the tanks went by; others
slowly jolted off onto the road.  Enemy tank fire caused a building
to burn near the battery position and a nearby dump of about 300 rounds
of artillery shells began to explode. The last of the tanks passed the
artillery position by 1015.  These tanks were from the 107th Tank Regiment of the 105th Armored Division, in
support of the N.K. 4th Division. 
Colonel Perry estimates that his four howitzers fired an average of
4 to 6 rounds at each of the tanks, and that they averaged perhaps 1 round
each in return. After the last tank was out of sight, rumbling on toward
Osan, the score stood as follows: the forward 105-mm. howitzer, and 2.36-inch
bazookas fired from the infantry position, had knocked out and left burning
1 tank and damaged another so that it could not move; the artillery had
stopped 3 more in front of the battery position, while 3 others though
damaged had managed to limp out of range toward Osan. This made 4 tanks
destroyed or immobilized and 3 others slightly damaged but serviceable
out of a total of 33.
For their part, the tanks had destroyed the forward 105-mm. howitzer
and wounded one of its crew members, had killed or wounded an estimated
twenty infantrymen, and had destroyed all the parked vehicles behind the
infantry position. At the main battery position the tanks had slightly
damaged one of the four guns by a near miss.  Only Colonel Perry and
another man were wounded at the battery position.
Task Force Smith was not able to use any antitank mines-one of the most
effective methods of defense against tanks-as there were none in Korea
at the time. Colonel Perry was of the opinion that a few well-placed antitank
mines would have stopped the entire armored column in the road. 
After the last of the tank column had passed through the infantry position
and the artillery and tank fire back toward Osan had subsided, the American
positions became quiet again. There was no movement of any kind discernible
on the road ahead toward Suwon. But Smith knew that he must expect enemy
infantry soon. In the steady rain that continued throughout the morning,
the men deepened their foxholes and otherwise improved their positions.
Perhaps an hour after the enemy tank column had moved through, Colonel
Smith, from his observation post, saw movement on the road far away, near
Suwon. This slowly became discernible as a long column of trucks and foot
soldiers. Smith estimated the column to be about six miles long.  It
took an hour for the head of the column to reach a point 1,000 yards in
front of the American infantry. There were three tanks in front, followed
by a long line of trucks, and, behind these, several miles of marching
infantry. There could be no doubt about it, this was a major force of the
North Korean Army pushing south-the 16th and 18th Regiments of
the N.K. 4th Division, as learned later. 
Whether the enemy column knew that American ground troops had arrived
in Korea and were present in the battle area is unknown. Later, Sr. Col.
Lee Hak Ku, in early July operations officer of the N.K. II Corps, said
he had no idea that the United States would intervene in the war, that nothing had
been said about possible U.S. intervention, and that he believed it came
as a surprise to North Korean authorities. 
With battle against a greatly superior number of enemy troops only a
matter of minutes away, the apprehensions of the American infantry watching
the approaching procession can well be imagined. General MacArthur later
referred to his commitment of a handful of American ground troops as "that
arrogant display of strength" which he hoped would fool the enemy
into thinking that a much larger force was at hand. 
When the convoy of enemy trucks was about 1,000 yards away, Colonel
Smith, to use his own words, "threw the book at them." Mortar
shells landed among the trucks and .50-caliber machine gun bullets swept
the column. Trucks burst into flames. Men were blown into the air; others
sprang from their vehicles and jumped into ditches alongside the road.
The three tanks moved to within 200-300 yards of the American positions
and began raking the ridge line with cannon and machine gun fire. Behind
the burning vehicles an estimated 1,000 enemy infantry detrucked and started
to deploy. Behind them other truckloads of infantry stopped and waited.
It was now about 1145.
The enemy infantry began moving up the finger ridge along the east side
of the road. There, some of them set up a base of fire while others fanned
out to either side in a double enveloping movement. The American fire broke
up all efforts of the enemy infantry to advance frontally. Strange though
it was, the North Koreans made no strong effort to attack the flanks; they
seemed bent on getting around rather than closing on them. Within an hour,
about 1230, the enemy appeared in force on the high hill to the west of
the highway overlooking and dominating the knob on that side held by a
platoon of B Company. Smith, observing this, withdrew the platoon to the
east side of the road. Maj. Floyd Martin, executive officer of the 1st
Battalion, meanwhile supervised the carrying of available ammunition stocks
to a central and protected area back of the battalion command post. The
4.2-inch mortars were moved up closer, and otherwise the men achieved a
tighter defense perimeter on the highest ground east of the road. 
In the exchange of fire that went on an increasing amount of enemy mortar
and artillery fire fell on the American position. Enemy machine guns on
hills overlooking the right flank now also began firing on Smith's men.
Earlier, Colonel Perry had twice sent wire parties to repair the communications
wire between the artillery and the infantry, but both had returned saying
they had been fired upon. At 1300 Perry sent a third group led by his Assistant
S-3. This time he ordered the men to put in a new line across the paddies
east of the road and to avoid the area where the earlier parties said they had received fire. 
About 1430, Colonel Smith decided that if any of his command was to
get out, the time to move was at hand. Large numbers of the enemy were
now on both flanks and moving toward his rear; a huge enemy reserve waited
in front of him along the road stretching back toward Suwon; and his small
arms ammunition was nearly gone. A large enemy tank force was already in
his rear. He had no communications, not even with Colonel Perry's artillery
a mile behind him, and he could hope for no reinforcements. Perry's artillery
had fired on the enemy infantry as long as the fire direction communication
functioned properly, but this too had failed soon after the infantry fight
began. The weather prevented friendly air from arriving at the scene. Had
it been present it could have worked havoc with the enemy-clogged road.
Smith planned to withdraw his men by leapfrogging units off the ridge,
each jump of the withdrawal covered by protecting fire of the next unit
ahead. The selected route of withdrawal was toward Osan down the finger
ridge on the right flank, just west of the railroad track. First off the
hill was C Company, followed by the medics, then battalion headquarters,
and, finally, B Company, except its 2d Platoon which never received the
withdrawal order. A platoon messenger returned from the company command
post and reported to 2d Lt. Carl F. Bernard that there was no one at the
command post and that the platoon was the only group left in position.
After confirming this report Bernard tried to withdraw his men. At the
time of the withdrawal the men carried only small arms and each averaged
two or three clips of ammunition. They abandoned all crew-served weapons-recoilless
rifles, mortars, and machine guns. They had no alternative but to leave
behind all the dead and about twenty-five to thirty wounded litter cases.
A medical sergeant, whose name unfortunately has not been determined, voluntarily
remained with the latter. The slightly wounded moved out with the main
units, but when enemy fire dispersed some of the groups many of the wounded
dropped behind and were seen no more. 
Task Force Smith suffered its heaviest casualties in the withdrawal.
Some of the enemy machine gun fire was at close quarters. The captain and
pitcher of the regimental baseball team, 1st Lt. Raymond "Bodie"
Adams, used his pitching arm to win the greatest victory of his career
when he threw a grenade forty yards into an enemy machine gun position,
destroying the gun and killing the crew. This particular gun had caused
About the time B Company, the initial covering unit, was ready to withdraw,
Colonel Smith left the hill, slanted off to the railroad track and followed
it south to a point opposite the artillery position. From there he struck
off west through the rice paddies to find Colonel Perry and tell him the
infantry was leaving. While crossing the rice paddies Smith met Perry's
wire party and together they hurried to Perry's artillery battery. Smith had assumed
that the enemy tanks had destroyed all the artillery pieces and had made
casualties of most of the men. His surprise was complete when he found
that all the guns at this battery position were operable and that only
Colonel Perry and another man were wounded. Enemy infantry had not yet
appeared at the artillery position. 
Upon receiving Smith's order to withdraw, the artillerymen immediately
made ready to go. They removed the sights and breech locks from the guns
and carried them and the aiming circles to their vehicles.  Smith,
Perry, and the artillerymen walked back to the outskirts of Osan where
they found the artillery trucks as they had left them, only a few being
slightly damaged by tank and machine gun fire.
Perry and Smith planned to take a road at the south edge of Osan to
Ansong, assuming that the enemy tanks had gone down the main road toward
P'yongt'aek. Rounding a bend in the road near the southern edge of the
town, but short of the Ansong road, Smith and Perry in the lead vehicle
came suddenly upon three enemy tanks halted just ahead of them. Some or
all of the tank crew members were standing about smoking cigarettes. The
little column of vehicles turned around quickly, and, without a shot being
fired, drove back to the north edge of Osan. There they turned into a small
dirt road that led eastward, hoping that it would get them to Ansong.
The column soon came upon groups of infantry from Smith's battalion
struggling over the hills and through the rice paddies. Some of the men
had taken off their shoes in the rice paddies, others were without head
covering of any kind, while some had their shirts off. The trucks stopped
and waited while several of these groups came up and climbed on them. About
100 infantrymen joined the artillery group in this way. Then the vehicles
continued on unmolested, arriving at Ansong after dark. 
There was no pursuit. The North Korean infantry occupied the vacated
positions, and busied themselves in gathering trophies, apparently content
to have driven off the enemy force.
The next morning, 6 July, Colonel Smith and his party went on to Ch'onan.
Upon arrival there a count revealed that he had 185 men. Subsequently,
Capt. Richard Dashmer, C Company commander, came in with 65 men, increasing
the total to 250. There were about 150 men killed, wounded, or missing
from Colonel Smith's infantry force when he took a second count later in
the day. The greatest loss was in B Company.  Survivors straggled in
to American lines at P'yongt'aek, Ch'onan, Taejon, and other points in
southern Korea during the next several days. Lieutenant Bernard and twelve
men of the reserve platoon of B Company reached Ch'onan two days after the Osan fight.
Five times he and his men had encountered North Korean roadblocks. They
arrived at Ch'onan only half an hour ahead of the enemy. A few men walked
all the way from Osan to the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. One man eventually
arrived at Pusan on a Korean sampan from the west coast. 
None of the 5 officers and 10 enlisted men of the artillery forward
observer, liaison, machine gun, and bazooka group with the infantry ever
came back. On 7 July 5 officers and 26 enlisted men from the artillery
were still missing. 
The N.K. 4th Division and attached units apparently lost approximately
42 killed and 85 wounded at Osan on 5 July.  A diary taken from a dead
North Korean soldier some days later carried this entry about Osan: "5
Jul 50 . . . we met vehicles and American PWs. We also saw some American
dead. We found 4 of our destroyed tanks. Near Osan there was a great battle."
 Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in Korean War, ch. III,
p. 1, citing Msg CX 56978, CINCFE to CG 8th Army, 30 Jun 50.
 EUSAK WD, Opns Ord 2, 010315K Jul 50.
 Ibid., troop list accompanying Opns Ord 2; Ibid., Prologue, 25 Jun-
13 Jul 50, Incl I, Rpt of G-1 Activities, 1-12 Jul 50, pp. 1-2.
 Interv, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51.
 Ltr, Smith to author, 4 May 52.
Intervs, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51, and Emmerich, 5 Dec 51. The
24th Division War Diary, 1 July 1950, erroneously states that 24 C-54
planes were available for the airlift. Smith denies this.
 Interv, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51.
 Ibid.; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, 25 Jun-3 Jul 50, Msg 239, msg from Gen
Church to FEAF, 3 Jul 50; N. Bartlett, ed., With the Australians in
Korea (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1954), p. 174.
 Ltr, Scott to friend, ca. 6-7 Jul 50; Interv, author with Hazlett,
11 Jun 54 (Colonel Hazlett was in the Suwon area on 3 July); Msg 239,
24th Div G-2 Jnl, 25 Jun-3 Jul 50.
 Ltr, Col Perry to author, 25 May 52; Intervs, author with 1st Lt
Edwin A. Eversole, 52d FA Bn, 1 Aug 51, and Perry, 13 Dec 51.
 Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in Korean War, ch.
III, pp. 4-5; Maj Gen Richard W. Stephens, MS review comments, Dec 57.
 Interv, author with Capt Tufts, 6 Aug 51; Capt Tufts, notes for
author, 8 Aug 51 (8 typescript pages); W. F. Dean and W. L. Worden,
General Dean's Story (New York: Viking Press, 1954), pp. 18-19.
 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, Msg 242, 3 Jul 50; USAFIK GO 1, 4 Jul 50, and
SO 1, 4 Jul 50.
 Church MS; Sawyer, KMAG MS; Schnabel FEC, GHQ Support and
Participation in Korean War, ch. IV, pp. 8-9.
 Brig Gen G. B. Barth, 25th Div Unit Hist, Tropic Lightning and Taro
Leaf in Korea (prepared in 1951), MS in OCMH (hereafter cited as Barth
MS); Gen Barth, MS review comments, 24 Feb 58.
 Interv, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51; Dean and Worden, General
Dean's Story, p. 20. Barth says Smith had already started his men
forward when he arrived at P'yongt'aek. MS review comments, 24 Feb 58.
 Interv, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51; Barth MS, p. 1; Barth, MS
review comments, 24 Feb 58.
 Intervs, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51, Perry, 13 Dec 51, and
Eversole, 1 Aug 51.
 Intervs, author with Perry, 13 Dec 51, and Eversole, 1 Aug 51; Ltr,
Perry to author, 5 Dec 51 The sixth howitzer had been left at
P'yongt'aek because of trouble with the prime mover.
 Ltr, Perry to author, 5 Dec 51; Intervs, author with Perry, 13 Dec
51, and Eversole, 1 Aug 51.
 Interv, author with 1st Lt Percy R. Hare, 5 Aug 51. (Hare was
Ammunition and Trains Officer, 52d Field Artillery Battalion, when the
battalion left for Korea.)
 Interv, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51; Ltr, Perry to author, 5 Dec.
51. The official army records contain many inaccuracies with respect to
Task Force Smith. To note only a few: one FEC G-2 report gives the date of
the Osan action as 6 July, the 24th Division War Diary gives it as 4
July. Both are wrong. Several sources state that enemy tank fire
destroyed all the American 105-mm. howitzers at Osan; only one was
 Ltr, Smith to author, 4 May 52; Intervs, author with Smith, 7 Oct
51, and Eversole, 1 Aug 51. Eversole says he looked at his watch when
the request for a fire mission came in from the forward observer and
noted the time as 0745, Barth thinks the time was closer to 0800. Smith
told the author he first saw the enemy column about 0700 and that it was
about half an hour in moving up in front of his position. In an
interview with the 24th Division G-2 on 7 July 1950, two days after the
action, Colonel Smith gave the time as 0745 when the tank column
approached his position. See 24th Div G-3 Jnl, 6-10 Jul 50, entry 64,
071720. A telephone call from USAFIK headquarters in Taejon to GHQ in
Tokyo at 1105, 5 July, gave the time of initial contact as 0818. Memo,
Gen Wright, FEC C-3, for CofS ROK, 051130 Jul 50.
 Intervs, author with Perry, 13 Dec 51, and Eversole, 1 Aug 51;
Barth, MS review comments, 28 Feb 58. Knowing the action was of historic
importance, Barth looked at his watch when the artillery opened fire. He
says it was 0816.
 Barth MS; Interv, author with Capt Ben M. Huckabay, 2 Aug 51.
(Huckabay was a corporal at Osan with the 52d Field Artillery.)
 Intervs, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51, and Perry, 13 Dec 51. Smith
told the author that the bazooka ammunition had deteriorated because of
 Interv, author with 1st Lt Lawrence C. Powers, 2 Aug 51. Powers was
Headquarters Company Communications Officer, 1st Battalion, 21st
Infantry, at Osan, 5 July. He said he saw this action.
 Intervs, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51, Perry, 13 Dec 51, and
Huckabay, 2 Aug 51, and Sgt Jack L. Ruffner, 2 Aug 51.
 Interv, author with Eversole, 1 Aug 51.
 Intervs, author with Perry, 13 Dec 51, and Huckabay, 2 Aug 51; Ltr,
Perry to author, 5 Dec 51.
 Intervs, author with Perry, 13 Dec 51, Eversole, 1 Aug 51, and
Huckabay, 2 Aug 51.
 Intervs, author with Perry, 13 Dec 51, and Eversole, 1 Aug 51.
 Intervs, author with Eversole, 1 Aug 51, and Huckabay, 2 Aug 51.
Special Order 76, 20 September 1950, awarded Colonel Perry the
Distinguished Service Cross.
 Interv, author with Eversole, 1 Aug 51.
 Intervs, author with Eversole, 1 Aug 51, and Perry, 13 Dec 51. The
24th Division General Order 111, 30 August 1950, awarded Lieutenant
Scott the Silver Star for action at Osan, 5 July 1950.
 Intervs, author with Eversole, 1 Aug 51, and Perry, 13 Dec 51.
 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 4 (Enemy Forces), p. 37.
 Ltr, Perry to author, 5 Dec 51; Interv, author with Perry, 13 Dec
 Intervs, author with Perry, 13 Dec 51, and Powers, 2 Aug 51: Ltr,
Smith to author, 4 May 52.
 Interv, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51.
 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), p. 45. The
division's third regiment, the 5th, remained behind in Suwon.
 ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 9 (N.K. Forces), pp. 158-74, Interrog of
Sr Col Lee Hak Ku.
 Senate MacArthur Hearings, pt. I, p. 231.
 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), p. 45; 24th
Div G-3 Jnl, Rpt of Interrog of Col smith, 071720, entry 64; Interv,
author with Smith, 7 Oct 51.
 21st Inf Regt WD, 5 Jul 50; Intervs, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51,
and Powers, 2 Aug 51.
 Ltr, Perry to author, 25 May 52.
 Intervs. author with Perry, 13 Dec 51, and Smith, 7 Oct 51.
 Intervs, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51, Eversole, 1 Aug 51, and
Powers, 2 Aug 51; Capt Carl Bernard, MS review comments, 24 Feb 58.
 Intervs, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51, and Huckabay, 2 Aug 51.
 Ltr, Perry to author, 25 May 52; Intervs, author with Perry, 13 Dec
51, and Eversole, 1 Aug 51.
 Intervs, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51, and Huckabay, 2 Aug 51.
 Interv, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51. Smith estimated his losses at
155 men. A verbal report by the 24th Division G-1, recorded in a
penciled journal entry in the division G-3 Journal, entry 71, 071500,
gave the total missing from the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, as 148
enlisted men and 5 officers. This total included 63 enlisted men and 2
officers from B Company, and 32 enlisted men and 2 officers from C
 Bernard, MS review comments, 24 Feb, 58; Lt. Bernard as told to
Sgt. Al Mullikin, "The First Brutal Weeks in Korea," the Washington
Post, June 24, 1954; Interv, author with Smith, 7 Oct 51.
 Ltr, Perry to author, 25 May 52; Interv, author with Huckabay, 2
Aug 51; 24th Div G-3 Jnl, Msg 67, 071935; 24th Div G-2 PW Interrog file,
6-22 Jul 50 (Paik In Soo); New York Times, July 6, 1950. One group of 36
Americans led by 2d Lt. Jansen C. Cox was captured on 6 July southeast
 ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 4 (Enemy Docs), p. 3, Casualty Rpt for
16th, 17th, 18th Regts, Arty Regt and attached units, 25 Jun-10 Jul 50.
A few of the enemy casualties given for Osan may have occurred at
P'yongt'aek the next day, but their losses at the latter place could not
have been numerous.
 24th Div G-2 PW Interrog File, 6-22 Jul 50. On 11 July an enemy
radio broadcast from Seoul first used PW's for propaganda purposes.
Capt. Ambrose H. Nugent, of the 52d Field Artillery Battalion, read a
statement of about a thousand words in English. The Seoul radio said
Nugent was one of seventy-two Americans captured at Osan from the 21st
Infantry and the 52d Field Artillery Battalion. See New York Times,
July 6, 1950, and the New York Herald-Tribune, July 12, 1950.
Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation